Sunday, June 28, 2009

Plan B and Such

NASA has a cheaper launch vehicle built on space shuttle technology. The news pundits are calling it Plan B. It's similar to Lockheed coming out with an F-22 and then Boeing coming out with the Stealth Eagle, except that the same entity came out with both options. I'm not sure what this means. Is Ares way behind schedule and cost overruns going through the roof? Has NASA decided to stick with what it knows rather than reinvent the wheel all over again? Who knows?

I've wasted a lot of time the past few weeks trying to get nooks integrated into a Linux-2.4.18 kernel. So far, it's been a big failure. This is why i didn't go into software design. I would rather program wetware (DNA and cells) than a complicated machine even though the cell is much more complicated than anything Mankind has built.

I had been having trouble getting my car out of parking gear. The mechanics thought it was the shift interlock solenoid that was to blame. Since none of the dealers were carrying that part which means that that part almost seldom fails, they checked again and found a fuse had blown. After replacing the fuse, the problem went away as well as my yellow check engine light on my 2004 Ford Taurus. I think it cost me $40 to discover that.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Perspective of a Network Security Analyst

My job as depicted in a series of images.

Digital Guardian/User Authentication (Workstation, Application, and Database Access) - "None shall pass!"

Network Security Analysts - "Look, there's some lovely muck over here!"

Our System Administrators - "Bring out your dead (systems)!"

Our Information Systems Manager - "It's Much Too Perilous (for you to have that digital forensics tool or Linux OS to do your job)! By the way, we're still working out the kinks in Digital Guardian (aka The Black Knight). Isn't that great software control software!"

Management/Ticket Review - "We are the knights who say ... (something entirely different every day/week/year from what we said we wanted earlier). And, how do you know what you know?"

Fellow Corporate Employees: the Great Insider Threat - "Very small rocks float."

The Very Real External Threat with Sharp Pointy Teeth

The Company's Perception of What My Group Can Do

SSO to our Intranet - "Answer me these riddles three, then you may pass!"

And, so it goes!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Debian Annoyance

I just installed Linux kernel 2.6.30 onto my sidux OS today. For some reason, Debian's version of Iceweasel was using 100% of my CPU making the web browser very slow. So slow in fact that I had to wait several seconds at a time to edit mistakes and such in today's blog postings. I downloaded a Linux version of Firefox and it doesn't use but 1-6% of my CPU. The performance difference is amazing. I wonder what the issue is with Iceweasel? It is essentially the same source code with the Mozilla graphics stripped out.


Finance Articles of Note

Two financial articles of interest here and here.


Worrying About Nothing

There were two articles this week that made me wonder what the big deal was. One was about decreasing the nitrogen content of the atmosphere to cool the planet. The whole paper while interesting and thought provoking is making several assumptions. The paper assumes that humans won't change anything, but we've been changing the planet for 50,000 years with our use of the low tech methods of axe, plow, and fire. While they are correct that the carbon dioxide levels have fallen dramatically since the birth of the planet, the nitrogen content has been largely unaltered. The atmosphere used to be roughly 70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide. When photosynthesis evolved, the carbon dioxide was combined with water to form sugars and oxygen was excreted as a waste product. The iron precipitated out of the oceans and aerobic respiration evolved leading to multicellular organisms in the last 500 million years or so. Once oxygen hit a critical concentration and the land masses spread out, cyclical cooling in the form of Ice Ages began to occur. Earth is a water world and the water will moderate the the planet's temperature for quite a while.

The second paper was about planetary orbits fluctuating, leading to planetary collisions - possibly the end of the Earth. Good grief, what hyperbole! That's like a baby worrying about getting hit by a meteor when he or she is 80 years old. Both this paper and the previous one have likely ignored the paper on orbital engineering that came out a year ago. Within 100 years, we will have the technology to move and direct asteroids and icy bodies within the solar system for orbital and planetary engineering projects. We could move Venus and Mars into habitable zones with this technique, and Earth can be moved to a higher orbit which would offset the solar heating. It would even allow us to move icy bodies from the outer solar system to impact with Mars and Venus to create oceans. We would also have to create a large enough artificial moon for Mars to remelt the core and create a magnetic dynamo which would recreate a magnetosphere and protect the regenerated Martian atmosphere. With the addition of water to Venus, and perhaps genetically engineered photosynthetic microorganisms, the Venusian atmosphere might be rendered breathable and cooler. I'd have been more impressed if the articles had not been so alarmist.


The Greening of Australia

Fifty thousand years ago, Australia had interior forests. Then along came man who burned down the interior forests. Because the interior forests were gone, the annual monsoon retreated north. Had this not happened, there might be grassland where there is now the Great Outback. But with the monsoon's retreat, there wasn't enough water even for grasses to grow. There are two ways to restore the interior forests, though both ways are expensive in time and labor. The cheapest method is to plant trees from the southernmost edge of the current monsoon and work one's way down south planting trees as you go. Alternatively, aquifers could be used for irrigation and whole forests grown around those water sources. Botanists and paleobotanists could be called in to tell us which trees need to be planted where to bring the interior forests back. This effort could take at a minimum 100 years and runs the risk of not having enough water for both the reforestation and private agricultural. It would depend upon how quickly the monsoon migrates south as well. A possible solution is to extract water from the air. With these systems around the trees, one could have a recycling water loop. It wouldn't be perfect, but it would help minimize the water losses to transpiration and evaporation. The second method is to create an inland sea by constructing a north-south canal from Northen Australia through the Great Outback. The microclimate created may would allow reforestation, increased crop production, plus revenues from tourism and canal fees for shipping. However, it would take several decades to build such a canal and inland sea. Something on that scale has never been done, and doing it conventionally would be very expensive. I suggested the use of nuclear explosives to speed up construction and decrease costs. Either project would be a great investment and public works project. Likely either project would pay for itself. With the return of the monsoon to the interior, agriculture would be easier, and what is now desert would once again bloom with life.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Entering a Severe Thunderstorm Unprotected

I dreamed that I was driving into a severe thunderstorm at night on a motorcycle. If I remember the dream correctly, a black haired woman in black leather was driving the all black motorcycle (crotchrocket) and I was a passenger. We stopped for gas while all along the horizon, the sky was full of clouds and sheet lightning. It was not raining yet, but we were going into the storm. I awoke earlier than planned, and shortly afterwards, read that an Air France Airbus A330 was lost in a thunderstorm off the coast of Brazil. I don't know if my dream is personal and that it means that I will be buffeted by some sort of human storm, or a part of me knew about the Airbus crash while I was sleeping. The dream could be construed that I am being conveyed by Death to a new destination. This dream's significance will only be explained after the passage of time and with hindsight, though for now, it makes little sense and was just a dream.


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